BELMAR, NJ — Metered parking fees along Belmar’s beachfront will remain at $1 an hour for the rest of the summer.
The Borough Council on August 6 tabled a proposed ordinance that would have increased the fee to $2 an hour, as a way to bring in additional revenues to meet a shortfall in its parking utility budget.
But even if the governing body had approved the measure, it would have been another 20 days before it took effect — as required by state law — leaving only eight days in the beach’s operating season, which ends on Labor Day.
In addition, not all the monies would have been going into the parking utility. “Even if (the fee) went to $2, most of it would still be going to the beach utility,” said Belmar Mayor Mark Walsifer, referring to a required 60/40 split of beach revenue between the borough beach utility and the parking utility as the structure now stands.
Under a longstanding court ruling, the borough must ensure all beach revenues are properly allocated for beach purposes, including overall operations and parking — a practice that was not followed by the previous administration and resulted in the lawsuit against Belmar for violating the state’s beach fee statute. As a result, the borough this year was forced to roll back its $2 per hour beach parking fee that had been in effect since 2013.
Borough officials will now examine the issue during the off-season, looking to come up with a better alternative to meeting all expenses in beach-related operations, particularly parking in light of the revenue split.
“We don’t want the taxpayers to supplement the meters at the beach,” said Mayor Mark Walisfer. “We will redo the whole thing and get it the right way for (next) summer."
One option under consideration is to ensure the beach and beach metered parking have the same hours of operations, “and let the beach (utility) handle everything,” he said.
Currently, beach badges are required between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekends through Labor Day. Lifeguards are on duty between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on the weekends. Paid parking along the boardwalk is enforced from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week, through Labor Day.
Also before next season, the borough will explore paid parking at the Belmar marina — specifically in prime locations in the lot around Marina Grille.
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